The Scottish Government should invest at least £500 million every year on renewable heating and energy-efficient homes in order to decarbonise.
That’s the call made in a new report published by WWF Scotland and Vivid Economics, which says property owners must be helped to replace fossil fuel heating if the country is to successfully end its contribution to climate change by 2045.
Currently, around half of all Scotland’s energy usage is spent on heating, with the majority of this coming from gas-fired boilers – the report stresses that if it does not take action now, it risks a “disruptive, rushed and costly exercise” to retrofit clean heating systems to buildings later on.
It notes the number of homes needing energy efficiency upgrades should double to 80,000 per year and urges the government to step up funding for home energy efficiency improvements from around £125 million to £250 million per year.
The study expects around 70,000 homes will need to have a renewable heating system installed every year between now and 2050, compared to the current annual rate of between 1,000 to 2,000 homes.
WWF Scotland and Vivid Economics suggest hundreds of millions of pounds should be spent each year creating a Scottish renewable heat pump grant to expand the usage of renewable heat and have called for a long-term national plan to phase out fossil fuel heating to be devised.
Fabrice Leveque, Senior Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “While three-quarters of Scotland’s electricity now comes from renewable sources, just 6% of our heat is green.
“With the right policies in place, our industry can deliver the carbon reductions needed to tackle climate change alongside economic benefits which will be felt across Scotland.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We want to end Scotland’s contribution to climate change by 2045 and are already taking action to deliver this, including through our commitments to reduce energy demand and associated carbon emissions, within new buildings by 2021 and to require new homes to use renewable and low carbon sources from 2024. Our proposed Heat Networks Bill will also decarbonise heat supply and contribute to our climate change targets.
“The Scottish Government is allocating £0.5 billion over the four years to 2021 to tackle fuel poverty and improve energy efficiency in existing buildings. This year we have distributed £145 million to improve the energy efficiency of Scotland’s building stock, while also investing £30 million in renewable heat projects through the Low Carbon Innovation Fund.
“While we are investing where we can, many of the levers sit with the UK Government, which urgently needs to set out its plans to reduce emissions from how we heat our homes and buildings.”